Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Rethinking Grading & Classroom Assessment Conference - June 2014

If you're not familiar with Andrew Maxey, he's someone you need to get to know. Recently, he was named 2014 Outstanding Administrator of the Year-Junior High/Middle School Division by the Alabama PTA. He's the principal at Rock Quarry Middle School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and he's leading the charge - and CHANGE - at the school. 

The staff at Rock Quarry has committed to fully implementing standards-based grading by 2015-16, which has been publicly stated in their Grading Manifesto.  Yesterday and today, the school is hosting the "Rethinking Grading & Classroom Assessment Conference," which features guest presenter Rick Wormeli.

I've written before about how we've begun exploring Redos, Retakes, and Do-overs at Hoover High School, and our district is headed towards standards-based grading. When Andrew invited me to attend the conference, I don't think it took but just a millisecond for me to send a response. Of course I wanted to go and chat with RQMS teachers and hear Rick Wormeli again.

In today's blog post I will share highlights from Day 1. You can see all of the handouts from the conference on the Rock Quarry Middle School website (the link is on the right-hand side of the page.) There are also LOTS of tweets from the conference, which you can see at #RGCA.

On Grading

"The 100-point scale is old school and falling out of favor at geometric rates."

Grades are not for bartering or rewards. They are simply communication.

On the Factory Model of School 

The factory model of school is outdated. There is no time limit to learning.

On Assessment

Students can better hit a target that stands still. Give them the test on the first day of the unit. Make the learning targets clear. If a student asks, "Is this on the test?" then we haven't done our job.

Formative assessment has descriptive feedback. It's not just pop quizzes. The formative assessment is not what is a game changer. It's the feedback!

Students should know the learning goals and where they are in relation to those goals. 
What is mastery? Determine the evidence first. 

On Homework

Homework is like coming home and doing your taxes. Research validates the stress! (Bennett/Kalish)

Alfie Kohn: "It's weird that kids spend all day at school, then they have more when they get home. What's weirder is that we don't think it's weird."

Two Homework Extremes that Focus our Thinking

If a student does none of the homework assignments, yet earns an "A" (top grade) on every formal assessment we give, does he earn anything less than an "A" on his report card?

If a student does all of the homework well yet bombs every formal assessment, isn't that also a red flag that something is amiss, and we need to take corrective action?

On Failure

Failure should be normal. Jump in with your kids - an F means that they're not there yet! (And remember, "Nobody knows ahead of time how long it takes anyone to learn anything." -Dr. Tae)

There is SO much to be gleaned from Rick Wormeli's presentations. I encourage you to watch his videos, read his books, and follow the Twitter stream for #RGCA!

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